Keynote speakers

Meredith Tax has been a writer and political activist since the late 1960s. She was a member of Bread and Roses, an early socialist-feminist group in Boston, and her 1970 essay, “Woman and Her Mind: The Story of Everyday Life,” is considered a founding document of the US women’s liberation movement. Tax has written a history book, The Rising of the Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict, 1880–1917 (1980; 2001); two historical novels, Rivington Street (1982; 2001) and Union Square (1988; 2001), and a children’s picture book, Families (1981; 1996, 1998). In 1986, Tax and Grace Paley initiated the PEN American Center Women’s Committee and became its co-chairs; she later became founding Chair of International PEN’s Women Writers’ Committee and from 1994 to 2005 was founding President of Women’s WORLD, a global free speech network that fought gender-based censorship.  She is currently US Director and head writer of the Centre for Secular Space, a London-based think-tank formed to oppose fundamentalism, strengthen secular voices, and promote universality in human rights.

For sale at the symposium:
Rivington Street. University of Illinois Press, 2001.
Rising of the Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict, 1880-1917. University of Illinois Press, 2001.
Families. The Feminist Press, 1996.
Union Square.  New York: Morrow, 1988.

Also available:
Night School Voices, stories compiled by Meredith Tax emerging from a Queens College Urban Studies class she taught at the Center for Workers' Education in Manhattan, 2010. Available print-on-demand at

Patricia McFadden is an African Feminist scholar/activist who lives and works on the African continent and in the global academy.  She currently resides in both Zimbabwe and Swaziland (Southern Africa) writing and growing most of her own food as a passionate vegan. Her work ranges across a variety of critical feminist issues including Sexuality, Citizenship and Post-Coloniality, Nationalism and Revolutionary Struggles, and Writing as Resistance on the African continent. In 1999, Professor McFadden was awarded the Hellman/Hammett Human Rights Award, an award that recognizes the courage of writers around the world who have been targets of political persecution. From 2005-2008 McFadden was the Endowed Cosby Chair in the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia; She went on to be Distinguished Visiting Professor at Syracuse University, co-hosted by the Women’s and Gender Studies and African American Studies Departments from 2008 to 2010.  Currently she is affiliated to the Women and Gender Studies Department at the University of the Western Cape as Extraordinary Visiting Professor.

For sale at the symposium:
Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism. Editors: Minnie Bruce Pratt, Robin L. Riley, and Chandra Talpade Mohanty. Zed Books, 2008. (McFadden’s essay: “Interrogating Americana: an African Feminist Critique”)

Also available:
Harvesting Feminist Knowledge for Public Policy, Rebuilding Progress. Editors: Devaki Jain and Diane Elson. SAGE, 2011 (McFadden’s essay: “Challenges for African Feminism in the Contemporary Moment”)
Reflections on Gender Issues in Africa. SAPES Books, 1999.
Gender in Southern Africa: A Gendered Perspective. SAPES Books, 1995.

Plenary speakers

Mandy Carter is National Coordinator of the Bayard Rustin Centennial Project of the National Black Justice Coalition. She began her 44-year movement career as a human rights and nonviolent activist working with the War Resisters League (WRL) in San Francisco, in 1969. A veteran of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s Poor People’s Campaign, Carter has been called “one of the nation’s leading African American lesbian activists” by the National Organization of Women. In 1990, Carter was campaign manager for North Carolina Senate Vote ’90, an electoral campaign organizing against long-time North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms. In 1992, she worked with the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum with a particular focus on the religious and radical right’s attacks on gays and lesbians through exploitation of the black community. In 2005, Ms. Carter was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the “1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005” in order to recognize, make visible and celebrate the impressive an valuable, yet often invisible peace work of thousands of women around the world. Carter is a co-founder of Southerners On New Ground (SONG).

Available in July 2012:
We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America. Editors: Elizabeth Betita Martínez, Mandy Carter & Matt Meyer. PM Press, July 2012.

Jaclyn Friedman is a writer, educator, and activist, and the editor of the hit book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, published by Seal Press in 2009. Her latest book from Seal Press, What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety, was published in 2011. Friedman is a popular speaker on campuses and at conferences across the U.S. and beyond. She has been a guest on the BBC, Democracy Now, To The Contrary, and numerous other radio and television shows, and her commentary has appeared in outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, The Nation, Jezebel,, The American Prospect, Bitch, AlterNet, and The Huffington Post. She is a SheSource expert, and was named one of 2009’s Top 40 Progressive Leaders Under 40 by the New Leaders Council. Friedman is a founder and the Executive Director of Women, Action & the Media, a national organization working for gender justice in media. She is also a charter member of CounterQuo, a coalition dedicated to challenging the ways we respond to sexual violence. Friedman holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College.

For sale at the symposium:
What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety. Seal Press, 2011.
Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. Seal Press, 2009.

Anissa Hélie is a feminist historian. She grew up in Algiers, Algeria, and has been involved with various women’s organizations and transnational networks – serving as Director of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Coordination Office for 5 years (2000-2004). She has held research and teaching positions at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, MA, at Amherst College and surrounding colleges (2005-2008) and is currently assistant professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Hélie speaks internationally sexuality, wars and conflicts, religious fundamentalisms and violence against women (and the unfortunate intersection of the four).  She has widely published on these topics. Her publications include: “Holy Hatred – Penalties for Homosexuality in Muslim Countries and Communities” (2000), Documenting Women’s Rights Violations by Non-State Actors: Experiences of Activists from Muslim communities (2006), and Policing Gender, Sexuality and Muslimness (forthcoming, 2012). Current board memberships include: the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Reproductive Health Matters Journal and the Center for Secular Space.

Available online:
“The U.S. Occupation and Rising Religious Extremism: The Double Threat to Women in Iraq.” Different Takes: A publication of the Population and Development program at Hampshire College, 2005.
Documenting Women's Rights Violations by Non-state Actors. International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development and Women Living Under Muslim Laws, 2006

Mia Herndon is the Executive Director of Third Wave Foundation. Herndon has been with Third Wave since 2001 and while serving as Program Director played a key leadership role in establishing the Reproductive Health and Justice Initiative (RHJI). Mia has also worked with many community-based organizations that focus on women’s leadership, HIV/AIDS prevention, anti-violence, international worker solidarity, counter-military recruitment, and criminal justice. Herndon currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Funding Network and the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights. She serves as an Advisor to the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, and a member of Another Politics Is Possible. Mia received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University for an interdisciplinary major in African-American Studies. In 2009, Herndon graduated from Columbia Business School’s Executive Education for Not-for-Profit Management Program.

Amber Hollibaugh is the Co-Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). Formerly she was Chief Officer of Elder & LBTI Women’s Services at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. Previous to that she was Senior Strategist for the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce and before that she was the Director of National Initiatives at SAGE -- Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. Earlier in her tenure there she was their Director of Education, Advocacy and Community Building. Before joining the staff of SAGE, she spent seven years at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) as Director of the Lesbian AIDS Project and subsequently as the National Director of Women’s Services. Prior to that, she had been the Director of Education for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, AIDS Division. A well-known activist, artist, public intellectual and community organizer, she was a founding member of Queers for Economic Justice and is currently on the boards of CLAGS (the Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies), LAIN (LGBT Aging Issues Network) of ASA and on the editorial board of GLQ, The Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies. She is a recipient of the Dr. Susan B. Love award for outstanding achievement in women’s health.

For sale at the symposium:
My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Duke University Press, 2000.

Ynestra King is a feminist activist, teacher, writer and oral historian. In the late seventies she was a pioneer in ecofeminist theory and politics in the US and in 1980 was a founder of Women and Life on Earth and the Women’s Pentagon Action, a feminist anti-militarist organization which inspired the UK Greenham Common women’s peace camp, the Seneca Falls women’s peace camp and many other peace camps, some of which continue to this day.  This form of feminist activism combines feminist theory and politics, the politics of non-violence and various forms of direct action including pre-figurative encampments and has much to offer Occupy and the new, new left.  King  is currently a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, working on disability narratives and body politics, focusing particularly on women and disability. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts and Columbia University, and has taught at the New School for Social Research, Columbia University and the Institute for Social Ecology. King is currently at work on a memoir tentatively entitled Falling, on bodily life and politics.

For sale at the symposium:
Dangerous Intersections: Feminist Perspectives on Population, Environment, and Development. Editors: Ynestra King and Jael Silliman. South End Press, 1999.

Gita Sahgal is a Founder, along with Meredith Tax, of the Centre for Secular Space. She is a filmmaker and writer active on issues relating to secularism, feminism and human rights. She was the Head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit from 2002 until 2010. She left due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ following her public complaint against Amnesty International’s partnership with the pro-salafi-jihadi organisation, Cageprisoners.  Sahgal was a founding member of Women Against Fundamentalism and Awaaz: South Asia Watch.  During the 1980s, she made numerous documentaries for Bandung File, a Black current affairs program on Channel 4, on the topics of racism in employment, housing, policing and prisons. She directed two films for Dispatches Channel 4, The Provoked Wife, on the Kiranjit Ahluwalia case and  women who kill due to domestic violence and The War Crimes File on the role of Jamaat e Islami associated death squads in the 1971 war in Bangladesh. She has written extensively for Women Living Under Muslim Laws including her 2011 publication, “The Question Asked by Satan: Doubt, Dissent and Discrimination in 21st Century Britain.”

Available as a free download:
“The Question Asked by Satan: Doubt, Dissent and Discrimination in 21st Century Britain.” Women Living Under Muslim Laws: Dossier 30-31,The Struggle for Secularism in Europe and North America, 2011.
Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain. Editors: Gita Sahgal and Nira Yuval Davis. Women Living Under Muslim Laws: International Solidarity Network, 1992.

Ann Snitow has been a feminist activist since she went to what turned out to be the founding meeting of New York Radical Feminists in 1969. Currently active in feminist initiatives as part of Occupy Wall Street, she has helped found many feminist organizations from No More Nice Girls to the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force; from The Network of East-West Women to Take Back the Future. She has written germinal texts such as "A Gender Diary" and "Feminist Futures in the Former East Bloc" and is co-editor of Powers of Desire and The Feminist Memoir Project. Her Ph.D. from the University of London is in Literature and she is the Director of Gender Studies and Associate Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at The New School for Social Research. Her current writing, organizing, and teaching often center on the developing feminist conversation in post-1989 East and Central Europe.

For sale at the symposium:
Feminist Memoir Project. Rutgers University Press, 2007.
Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality. New York: Monthly review Press, 1983.


Symposium Sponsors

The Bingham Center would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of our symposium programming:

  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Provost
  • Dean of Arts and Sciences
  • African and African American Studies
  • Program in Women's Studies
  • Duke Women's Center
  • Franklin Humanities Institute
  • Duke University Libraries
  • David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library